In the current study, the authors sought to explore fertility intentions among HIV-positive UK women and to assess the effect of HIV treatment, as well as interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission, on these intentions. The team noted that while the United Kingdom has seen a dramatic increase in the number of pregnancies among HIV-infected women during the past decade, attitudes toward childbearing among these women have not been described previously.
The subjects of the study were HIV-positive women, ages 16 to 49, who attended one of seven UK HIV clinics between July 2003 and January 2004. The women were asked to complete a questionnaire that collected information on demographic factors, history of HIV testing, history of pregnancy, and fertility intentions (i.e., the desire to have children).
A total of 521 women were eligible, of whom 450 (86 percent) completed the questionnaire. Three-quarters (336/450) reported they wanted (more) children; 45 percent (201/450) said their HIV diagnosis did not affect their fertility intentions; 11 percent (50/450) said the diagnosis made them want children sooner; 10 percent (44/450) did not know, or reported other views.
While one-third (155/450) of the women decided they no longer wanted children after learning they were HIV-positive, 41 percent (59/144) changed their mind due to advances in HIV management and treatment. "Factors associated with an increase in fertility intentions after advances in HIV management and treatment were being in a partnership and having fewer than two children," the authors wrote.
"In this survey of HIV-infected women, the majority wanted children, and women were more likely to want children after improvements in HIV management and treatment. These findings highlight the need for specialized family planning and reproductive health services targeting this population," the authors concluded.
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